MTA Holds First Ever Hackathon at NYU-Poly

After nearly 30 hours of through-the-night, hunchbacked coding, programming, and developing, the judges of the MTA and AT&T-sponsored AppQuest hackathon were ready to announce their winners.

17 teams of developers had taken part in the weekend-long competition at the NYU-Poly campus, each producing an app in the hopes of taking home the $5,000 first place prize as they continue their work for the AppQuest global competition, which invites participants from around the world, including every team involved in the Brooklyn-based hackathon.

SubCulture.FM, the overall winner, designed an app to connect users to their favorite public transit musicians and offer them the chance to buy their singles. Users can open a map to browse updates of where performers can be found throughout the city, along with biographies and commentaries on their music.

A $3,000 second prize went to MTA Sheriff, which allows users to post and read comments on live subway issues and concerns. And in third place, Accessway took home $2,000 for their speech-to-text tech enabled app meant to help the visually and physically disabled navigate the subway system.

“It was inspiring to see so many talented teams turn out for this weekend’s hackathon and put forth ideas that have the potential to transform the transit experience for millions of riders every day,” said Marissa Shorenstein, President of AT&T New York. “We can’t wait to see how [SubCulture.FM] and other developers build on their ideas over the summer as we continue to search for the next great transit apps during the MTA and AT&T AppQuest Challenge.”

The Global AppQuest Challenge will continue until August 20, when developers across the world will submit their final products, and the MTA and AT&T will hand out $40,000 in prizes to contestants.

“App developers have already proven themselves to be creative, engaged, and energetic. We’re looking forward to seeing what they will come up with,” said Tom Prendergast, MTA Interim Executive Director.

Although this is the second AppQuest Challenge the MTA has hosted, the event at NYU-Poly is the first time it has ever thrown a dedicated ‘hackathon.’ The previous 2011-12 AppQuest turned out 42 new MTA-oriented apps, in addition to the MTA’s ongoing process of adding new apps to make traveling in New York City more convenient, such as The Weekender, Arts for Transit, and Moovit.